Bereavement

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I thought I had Byron Katie’s philosophy on death mastered. Consider death differently. Let go of stressful thoughts. It’s egoic to want someone to still be alive if they died. No one dies “too soon.” Resisting reality only causes pain. Yes, I get that.

But then a very good friend passed away today and I can’t help but cry and feel the loss of his physical presence. Someone who gave so much of himself is now gone. How to reconcile this?

Tomorrow is a new day. His children and his wife will feel his absence. We all will. As Katie says, life is a recycling circuit. Nothing happens too soon. Everything happens “just right” and I must trust this is true, even though it doesn’t feel that way right now.

Twigs and Bones

When I walk among the trees,

I drink in the rays of light

that peek through the leaves

and my feet crunch the “dead” things

but they are not lifeless

see here?

insects march and work

fungus and lichen exchange food

the twigs lie in wait

to service fires and soil

and you are not dead – never were –

your spirit lives on in everyone you ever met

 

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Twigs – Drawing Practice

 

Death as a Teacher

o0ta3hn-thc-jakub-kriz.jpgFor something that affects each of us without fail, the subject of death remains taboo in our culture. Why?

2016 was rife with “surprise” celebrity deaths: Rickman, Bowie, Prince, Fisher and so many more. It’s sad to lose people we admire and love.

Yet, death can be the best teacher. It reminds us that life is, in the end, pretty short. It can clarify values pretty quickly. Six and half years ago, I was told by my doctor that I had cancer. I was fortunate – it was early stage I breast cancer – and my prognosis was very good. But I was 41 and not expecting that diagnosis at all. My life got crystal clear: Family and friends were priority. I realized that my job – teaching – was something I truly valued and I was grateful for it.

As I walked out of the hospital to go home to recover from my radical mastectomy, the air was crisp, the sun shone brightly and I noticed practically every blade of grass of the hospital lawn. I felt so alive!

Realizing that we don’t have much time gives us urgency. Don’t waste a day complaining. Don’t be negative. Live in the light of positivity and gratitude. Work towards your dreams. You might not have much time.